JD Fratzke, the celebrated chef who made a name for himself in Saint Paul restaurants, is heading to Cannon Falls to open up a supper club and game hall inside a burgeoning freeway-side food hall. The chef is partnering with Dave Olson at Artisan Plaza and will open the restaurant later this spring.
The as-of-yet-unnamed spot will harken back to the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s when city dwellers lit out on back country roads destined for somewhere rustic to feast on plate-sized prime rib and crusty walleyes.
Fratzke gained renown at the Strip Club Meat and Fish in St. Paul, before going on to open Saint Dinette, Bar Brigade, and Spring Cafe, among others. The Strip Club closed in the summer of 2017. The chef walked away from the corporate side of cooking late last year.
Growing up in Winona, Minnesota, Fratzke was often on the river, hunting and fishing with the seasons. His passion for food was stoked over those campfires and to be in a more rural setting is a thrill for him.
Artisan Plaza already has a counter service sandwich and soup stand as well as a pizza restaurant. Plus there is a shop selling local cheese, vinegars, olive oil and preserves inside. The idea for the hall came to Olson while thinking on the roadside creameries of rural Wisconsin. He had grown up on a farm that had to be sold, as many others did, in the ‘80’s. With that sale, he purchased a couple of semi-trucks to haul goods for other agricultural companies in the region. Olson grew that business into one large enough that he was able to build this roadside draw that opened in the summer of last year.
Fratzke says that in addition to the restaurant, Artisan Plaza is working with the Department of Agriculture in hopes of adding a butcher shop that could work with nearby Lorentz Meats and Churchill Reserve’s grass-fed beef.
The centerpiece of the restaurant will be an historic bar that Olson had brought in. On the menu will be plenty of wild game, freshwater fish, and likely some grass fed beef.
Although, it seems like quite a haul for his fans in the metro area, Fratzke notes that it’s just a 15 minute drive from Inver Grove Heights, and not far from Apple Valley or Rochester. He said, “I grew up in a town of 26,000 people and love the idea of working in a community like this.”